Summary: Down to a Sunless Sea plunges the reader into uncomfortable situations and into the minds of troubled characters. Each selection is a different reading experience—poetic, journalistic, nostalgic, wryly humorous, and even macabre. An award-winning essayist and historical novelist, Mathias B. Freese brings the weight of his twenty-five years as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist into play as he demonstrates a vivid understanding of—and compassion toward—the deviant and damaged. -- wheatmark
Anytime an author contacts me about reading and reviewing his or her book, I am extremely flattered. When Mathias B. Freese e-mailed me asking if I was interested in his collection of short stories DOWN TO A SUNLESS SEA, I naturally said "Of course!" Although I read a lot of different books, I haven't read very many short stories -- for some reason I'm a little intimidated by them.
As I try to write this review about this book, I'm very worried that I won't be able express my feelings about it -- to actually "do it justice." DOWN TO A SUNLESS SEA is a book that deals with many unique characters in very creative ways. All of the characters were a little "off," but I think that readers will recognize characteristics of people we encounter everyday.
I'm sure that a few of the stories and the literary references were over my head, but I did enjoy them nonetheless. One of my favorites was a called "I'll Make It, I Think." This story was about a teenage boy who was crippled due to Cerebral Palsy. I was deeply touched by his feelings about his body, yet I also found myself laughing at his descriptions of himself -- he named his various body parts. I really felt that I was in the mind of this troubled teenage boy who was trying to come to terms with his unfortunate situation.
Another story that I liked was "Alabaster." This is the story of a nine year old boy who meets an elderly woman who is a survivor of the Holocaust. The reader never really knows whether the boy understands what this woman has been though; however, we are allowed to see that this woman's life has been utterly and irreparably broken. I was not only touched by the story of her past, but I was also deeply affected that she was able to see hope in the boy's future.
Mathias B. Freese is a gifted award winning writer, and I'm amazed with his ability to tell a story (or in this case stories.) I found that most of the stories were linked by the recurring theme of the long-lasting effects of childhood. Each story had a different "feel" to it -- some were poignant, some were humorous, and some were plain weird. Mr. Freese has over 25 years as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, and it's very evident that he understands troubled people.
DOWN TO A SUNLESS SEA is a very interesting book that lets the reader see the lasting effects that troubled childhoods can have on individuals. While it's not exactly a collection of upbeat stories, it will definitely entertain you. I felt a great of empathy to so many of the characters, and I know that they will remain in my thoughts for quite awhile.
Also reviewed at:
Melody's Reading Corner
J. Kaye's Book Blog
My Own Little Reading Room